Offense Gets Rolling as West High Downs Solon in Top-10 Matchup at Crosstown Classic

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Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – Marcus Morgan turned in his usual strong pitching performance for West High at the fifth annual Crosstown Classic.

It was an upstart offense for Class 4A fourth-ranked West High that pushed the Trojans past 3A No. 6 Solon on Saturday at Banks Field in Iowa City.

West High (10-4) broke open a one-run game with an eight-run fifth inning on its way to a 12-3 win over Solon in the final game of the Fight With Flash Foundation tripleheader.

 “Marcus is really good and we always have a chance to win when we are trotting him out,” West High senior Nick Biancuzzo said. “We have to do our parts with the bats but that’s a little easier with him on the bump.”

Morgan tossed five strong innings to improve to 4-0 on the season as West High provided some late run support for its standout sophomore hurler.

After Morgan helped West High open the week with a 6-4 win over Liberty High ton Monday the Trojans scored one run on nine hits in three consecutive losses to Liberty High and Cedar Rapids Xavier on Tuesday and Wednesday.

West High rebounded offensively by scoring 34 runs in three straight wins to end the week highlighted by a 10-hit performance against the Spartans on Saturday.  

“It’s all confidence,” West High coach Charlie Stumpff said. “Against Xavier the first game we left nine guys on and at that stage it was some bad luck going on. We think we can be a pretty good hitting team, Biancuzzo has been really good, (Jason) Strunk and (Ryan) Cooper have been good, we’ve got enough guys and we think we can battle against velocity so that was good. We got going a little bit.”

Through four innings it looked like West High would need another great outing from Morgan to escape with a win.

West High took a 1-0 lead in the second on an RBI single by Owen McAreavy and added a run in the third when Biancuzzo led off with a bunt single, stole second and scored on a Cooper sacrifice fly.

“My job as leadoff is always to be the sparkplug and to get things going a little bit,” Biancuzzo said. “If that happens to be a bunt hit when the third baseman is playing back behind the bag that’s what I’ll do.”

Solon (9-3) cut the deficit to 2-1 in the fifth on singles by Jackson Pipolo, Brady Jeworrek and Cam Miller.

West High exploded in the fifth as eight consecutive Trojans reached base and came around to score.

Solon issued three walks and hit two batters in the eight-run fifth that featured an RBI single by Morgan and three-run triple by senior second baseman Casey Marvin.

“I think it’s really important for us to get going,” Biancuzzo said. “I feel like our team got a little down and we had to loosen up a little bit and once we loosened up we started scoring a lot of runs.”

Morgan moved to 4-0 with a .35 ERA in 20 innings this season after allowing one run on four hits while striking out five.

“We had Liberty on Monday and Saturday was enough rest and he will roll right into a Friday next week against Kennedy for conference,” Stumpff said of Morgan. “We try to move guys in a rotation that makes sense. We are trying to get as much out of Marcus as we can without ever, every putting him in jeopardy. You want to do well in this thing, you are playing good teams and it worked out that way.”

Ryan Geistkemper took the loss for Solon allowing five runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.

“I thought we pitched well, I thought we played some good defense and we battled against a good arm,” Solon coach Keith McSweeney said. “The big thing I wanted to see tonight was some mental toughness and really grinding out some at bats and the second or third time through some guys squared the ball up.”

Chris McSweeney and Jackson Pipolo each had two hits for Solon while Miller had an RBI single for the Spartans.

“I’m about as pleased as you can be in a loss,” McSweeney said. “It obviously got away from us in the fifth, we just had trouble throwing strikes and that is going to happen once in a while but I’m pleased with a lot of what we did tonight.”

Solon             000  012  0  –   3    8   0

West High      011  082  x  –  12  10  1

W – Marcus Morgan               L – Ryan Geistkemper

3B – ICW: Casey Marvin

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